Dear Person Responsible For The Employee Newsletter:

I just received the latest issue and I'm sorry to tell you that I'm disappointed. (In fact, if I were Santa, you'd be on the "naughty" list).

I know how hard you work--and how challenging it is to get an issue written, edited, designed, approved and distributed. So I don't want to be critical. But you're making some mistakes that are seriously undermining your ability to get employees' attention. And I feel like it's my obligation to tell you, the way a friend would tell you if you had a piece of spinach stuck in your teeth or your hem was coming undone.

The fact is, your publication's slip is showing. Here are five examples of what I mean:

  1. There are too many middle-aged white guys in suits. These guys may be representative of senior management, but they're not a reflection of the broader employee population. Why don't you show some real employees?
  2. Nobody talks like this: "Thanks to the outstanding vision of John Smith, the company remains well-positioned in the industry with a balanced portfolio of advanced products and services for a wide range of applications," the lead story quotes the CEO as saying. It's not even good writing, much less a credible and compelling quote.
  3. Who would read a 700-word executive Q&A? Come to think of it, when's the last time most people have read 700 words on any subject? As Madonna once sang, We're living in a Twitter world, and I am an Instagram girl. Unless the (middle-aged white guy) VP of Blah-Blah-Blah is sharing secrets on how to beat cancer, there is no way he deserves that many words.
  4. There's no such thing as "news" in a newsletter. By the time the publication is sent, either employees have heard the news already--or it's just not important. Unless you're publishing a daily, your publication should be providing perspective, context and meaning--not trying to "report" on "news."
  5. I'll bet every person quoted or pictured in your newsletter is doing something fascinating, or has a completely unique perspective on some issue. But you've sanitized them--made them bland, safe, corporate, boring. They're interchangeable--nothing quirky or special about them. For example, the VP of Blah-Blah-Blah (see note on Q&A above) is a guy who's accomplished a lot. Instead of asking him, "What fields are today's cutting-edge technologies originating from?", why don't you try a question like: "What's the most difficult challenge this group faces? Who's our toughest competitor and why? What keeps you up at night?" And then provide the candid answer.

Speaking of candid, I don't mean to hurt your feelings, but I just had to tell you the truth. For all your hard work, your newsletter deserves to be more effective. Please rest up over the holiday and, when you return, resolve to approach communication differently in the New Year.